Booze

Could a craft-beer souvenir store fly at Denver International Airport?

As we report in this week's Off Limits, there's a good explanation why you can't buy growlers of craft beer at Denver International Airport (as you can at the Portland airport, as Jonathan Shikes recently discovered): Colorado law limits the sale of growlers -- those 64-ounce containers that can be refilled -- to the specific brewpub or brewery where the beer is made.

But no such law prohibits the sale of bottles or cans of beer. And since Colorado has more than 120 breweries and some of the best craft beer in the country, what better souvenir for a beer-loving tourist to take home from a visit here than some suds?

If Denver wants to get serious about marketing itself to the rest of the world, it should find a way to peddle its most liquid assets at DIA. To do so, the city just needs some enterprise to get a liquor license and then open a store on a concourse -- past security (where, of course, any liquids would be confiscated).

"We're not aware of any major legal issue preventing a concept like this in Denver," says DIA spokeswoman Jenny Schiavone, "and our concessions group has actually discussed the idea." But before DIA would issue its own request for proposals for such a beery business, it would have to examine whether it would be economically and legally viable.

In the meantime, Schiavone adds, "We're generally open to someone coming to us with a model for this."

Maybe that someone should take a look at the space on Concourse B where Auntie Anne's now sells pretzels. According to Robert Smith, president of the parent company, Platte River Industries, that runs that store and one in the terminal, Auntie Anne's lease on Concourse B is up in October -- and DIA is not interested in renewing it, or the leases of several other concessions there. "Their master plan is to take all of us out of there and put an Italian restaurant in that area," Smith told Alan Prendergast. "None of us have figured out what sense that made. Originally, it was going to be a sushi bar, which was even more ridiculous."

DIA spokeswoman Laura Coale says that nothing's been decided about that space.

Which means the time might never be better to pitch an Always Drink Colorado concession at DIA!

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun